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Reconfiguring rural spaces and remaking rural lives in central Thailand.

Introduction: Grounding the Asian economic miracle

It has become normal to comment on the scale and pace of change in the growth economies of East and Southeast Asia. From the mid-1960s, when the original tiger economies--Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore--came to the world's notice, Asia has been seen as an exemplar region where economic growth really has delivered development with rising standards of living and rapidly falling rates of poverty. In 1993, the World Bank set out what it regarded as the reasons for--and the lessons of--the Asian 'miracle', and added Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to its list of High Performing Asian Economies. (1) Notwithstanding the Asian economic crisis of 1997-99, the region collectively remains, in the eyes of many scholars and practitioners, a developmental role model to be emulated. (2)

There may still be heated academic and policy debate over the reasons for Asia's perceived economic success, whether there has been one Asian 'miracle' or several, the long-term sustainability of the region's growth trajectory, and its ability to deliver real improvements in quality of life to the mass of the population, but there is no doubting that the last few decades have witnessed often extraordinary rates of economic expansion, deep structural changes in the economies of the region, and the far-reaching integration of the countries concerned into the global economy. Many studies have dissected and interpreted the aggregate, national-level data on Asia's growth experience. There are also, equally, a good number of micro-level studies which have set out patterns of change in individual villages and districts. What this paper aims to do, however, is to set out the depth, scale and speed of local change and to explicitly relate and link this to the wider national context and, more particularly, patterns of industrialisation in the central plains region of Thailand. It is one thing to note that economic expansion has been rapid, that incomes are rising and poverty is falling, and that structural change in employment and output is pronounced, but what does this mean on the ground, and in people's lives? Drawing on a study of two villages in one sub-district of the central Thai province of Ayutthaya (Figure 1), the following discussion makes this link between the macro-economic changes with which we are all familiar, and their grounded outcomes in terms of life and livelihood.

The choice of Ayutthaya and then the selection of one particular sub-district for study were driven by a desire to map out rural and community change in what we term Thailand's manufacturing 'frontier'. It should be emphasised that we are not suggesting that this area is representative of the country as a whole. What we do propose, however, is that it provides an insight into the ways in which the countryside and the social and economic structures that constitute and comprise rural areas are being reworked as part of a wider experience of fast-track industrialisation. Furthermore, we argue that this 'reworking' is sometimes surprising and unexpected and does not always accord with generalised visions of either agrarian transition, or rural-urban relations and interactions.

Research methods

The fieldwork on which the paper is based was carried out between late 2005 and mid-2006. It comprised a complementary four-stage research process. First of all, community profiles were undertaken in the two study villages of Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom. These profiles were based on in-depth discussions with key informants and local leaders and officials. At the same time, a profile of the nearby Rojana Industrial Park and factory work was undertaken, drawing on interviews with workers, factory managers, local officials, and those involved in the administration of the industrial park itself. These community and sector profiles then informed the next stage of the research process--a semi-structured survey questionnaire undertaken in the two study villages. This survey covered 130 village households, 47 factory workers living in the study villages and 13 estate-based families (190 questionnaires in total). (3) Finally, a sub-sample of those households and individuals included in the survey questionnaire were reinterviewed at greater length and in more detail.


From region to nation to village: Reflecting on agrarian transitions in Southeast Asia

From extended metropolitanisation to 'the village' in Asia: A Review

There is a rich literature on village life and livelihoods, and agrarian / urban transitions in Southeast Asia. Rather than attempting a thin and unsatisfactory summary of this literature, the emphasis in this short context-setting section is on those aspects of the literature that relate most closely to the concerns of this paper. This falls into three arenas of discussion: work on extended metropolitanisation; on livelihood diversification and de-agrarianisation; and on 'the village' as a social, administrative and economic category.

In the 1980s, the geographer Terry McGee made a case for the emergence of 'extended metropolitan regions' (EMRs) in Asia. Rather than expecting Asian nations to undergo a process of urban transition similar to the countries of the industrialised west, he identified the emergence of mega-urban regions characterised by wide peri-urban zones with dense populations, a vital mosaic of agricultural and non-agricultural activities, and a tight interaction of people and activities. For McGee, 'the central processes that shape these regions are the dynamic linkages between agriculture and non-agriculture, and investment seeking to utilize cheap labour and land within a distinctive agro-ecological setting'. (4) In this formulation, urbanisation becomes region-based, the city becomes a zone that stretches 100 kilometres or more from its traditional core, and the peri-urban rather than being an edge space in functional as well as geographical terms becomes a central and dynamic component in the city economy's operation and in the local--global nexus. (5) In a paper with Charles Greenberg, McGee made a case for Bangkok being one such city, writing in conclusion that in the Extended Bangkok Metropolitan Region (EBMR), 'there is evidence of a dynamic transactive region defying all levels of conventional rural-urban thinking'. (6) More recently, Douglas Webster has noted the way in which migration flows in Thailand have shifted in line with changing patterns of urbanisation. Until the 1980s, the dominant flow was from rural to urban core (i.e. Bangkok); since the mid-1980s, flows have been from rural areas to regional centres and peri-urban areas and, in particular, the Extended Bangkok Metropolitan Region (of which Ayutthaya is a part). (7)

On a wider scale, Gavin Jones has argued for the 'thoroughgoing' urbanisation of East and Southeast Asia, highlighting the way in which patterns of urbanisation are challenging established assumptions about the rural-urban divide, about the mental separation of rural and urban living and lifestyles, (8) and about the geographical location of the proletariat. In the context of China, there has been a parallel debate over 'in situ urbanisation' where the de facto urbanisation of the countryside is occurring based around village marketing nodes or cunzhen, which are urban in all but name. This is closely linked to the phenomenal growth of Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), a central element in a locally orchestrated process of rural industrialisation. Shen and Ma contrast this 'urbanisation from below' with the city-focused and centre-driven 'urbanisation from above' that characterised the Maoist era. (9)

An element of the debate over extended metropolitanisation has concerned the changing occupational characteristics of populations living in such vital peri-urban zones. Rural livelihood diversification, however, has been identified as characteristic of rural areas of Asia remote even from the most extended EMR. This progressive process of delinking of rural populations from their farming roots has been termed deagrarianisation. (10) Essentially, the argument is that rural households are becoming less dependent on farming, that livelihoods are becoming delocalised and delinked from the land, that non-farm activities are contributing an increasing share of household income, that these changes are often tied to various forms of mobility, and that such economic / livelihood adaptations are also linked to significant cultural and social changes. (11)

The final area of wider debate that intersects with the concerns of this paper is the question of the constitution of the village as a social, economic and administrative unit or container. The 'village' in Asian historiography is often seen as the elemental building block of society. Before the market and commercialisation, before the state and the development 'project', before factory work and new technologies, there was the village, a primordial place and space and, paraphrasing Robert Elson, 'a world unto itself'. (12) It was in this elemental space that identities, livelihoods and social structures intersected and were shaped. As Thai economic historian Chatthip Nartsupha writes of the village in Thailand, it is 'one of the most ancient institutions in Thai society', a 'self-sustaining and relatively autonomous unit' that 'existed in tranquillity throughout the long period of time which saw external changes ... numerous wars against Burma, and considerable dynastic turbulence'. (13) This vision of the past has been challenged, most obviously in the case of Thailand, in the work of Jeremy Kemp, and more generally for Southeast Asia by Jonathan Rigg. (14)

As a possible way out of the impasse, Philip Hirsch, with respect to Thailand, proposes that we can view the village in two ways; first of all, as a physical unit and identifiable entity with a particular set of characteristics and second, as a discursive category or notion. As Hirsch writes, the first mindset prompts the question 'Where and what is the village?' and the second, 'Where and what is the village?' (15) For Hirsch, we need to recognise the village as discourse, as an arena a struggle and as a state-imposed administrative structure, even if we remain wary of endowing the village with historical veracity and community coherence.

Thailand and the central region of Thailand

The central region of Thailand, including Bangkok and Bangkok's extended metropolitan region, supports the bulk of Thailand's export-oriented manufacturing enterprises. The central plains have also historically been the centre of Thailand's export-oriented rice industry. We have in this region, therefore, a rich and complex spatial and economic mosaic of factories and farms.

Ayutthaya province is just 75 km north of Bangkok by road and has been the target of successive Thai governments' industrialisation policies (Figure 1). Tax and other incentives have encouraged industries to set up in the province, beginning in the 1980s when a number of industrial parks and estates were approved for development by the government. (16) The emergence of the Extended Bangkok Metropolitan Region (EBMR)--the 11 provinces surrounding Bangkok--as a favoured and favourite location for industrial investment lies in a combination of factors and influences: investment zoning policies which privilege surrounding provinces over Bangkok; the presence of a supportive industrial infrastructure; the high costs of locating in Bangkok itself; and, at the same time, the relative proximity to Bangkok. As Luxmon Wongsuphasawat writes: 'Although the EBMR can be seen as a form of industrial decentralisation away from Bangkok, in reality it represents a form of dispersed concentration as industries have spread to the eleven provinces of the EBMR, but are still heavily concentrated in this section of Thailand's spatial economy.' (17) One such site of investment is the Rojana Industrial Park, established in May 1988, which is partially situated in the study sub-district. In mid-2005 the registered industrial sector of Ayutthaya province consisted of 1,425 factories employing some 192,584 workers. There are likely to be many more workers employed in unregistered enterprises. To put this figure into perspective, the total population of the province at the end of 2004 was 740,397. (18) The sectoral breakdown of the economy of Ayutthaya province reveals that less than 2 per cent of provincial output is now accounted for by the agricultural sector.

On the basis of the aggregate economic statistics, therefore, it seems that Ayutthaya is, today, a province where agriculture has been virtually squeezed out of the equation. And yet, according to official data drawn from government offices in Uthai district, where the research villages are situated, 87 per cent of land is classified as agricultural and a significant portion of this is (notionally) well-irrigated rice land. Official reports continue to highlight the central role of agriculture in employment in the district, and note that drought--rather than industrial decline or economic recession--remains the main threat to sustainable livelihoods. There is no doubt that land devoted to agriculture and rice cultivation is declining--from 15,700 ha in 1976 to 12,200 ha in 2004 for Uthai district, and from 200,000 ha to 117,000 ha for Ayutthaya province as a whole. Nonetheless, the prevalent, popular geographical discourse is of Uthai district and Ayutthaya province remaining a heartland of Thailand's agricultural economy--as well as lying at the core of the kingdom's industrial revolution.

Tambon Khan Haam--the sub-district (or tambon) where the field research was carried out--consists of nine villages some 4 kilometres from the district capital of Uthai and 13 kilometres from Ayutthaya city (Figure 1). Geographically, Tambon Khan Haam is situated in a low-lying area which is seasonally flooded for six months of the year. A river flows through the middle of the tambon from east to west and there are two irrigation canals which provide supplementary water for wet season rice cultivation and the production of other crops. Even so, water during the dry season is scarce. Since the mid-1980s, there has been a radical reorientation of land use within the tambon. Large areas of former agricultural land have been turned over to industrial uses, some 192 ha in total, with the result that agricultural land in the tambon is now a scarce commodity. While this decline in farm land is a feature of Uthai district and Ayutthaya province more generally, it is particularly acute in Tambon Khan Haam because of its proximity to the Rojana Industrial Park.

The Rojana Industrial Park extends over an area of 672 hectares. Successive waves of expansion have meant that the park now intrudes into neighbouring Tambon Thanu. Indeed, a further phase in the Park's expansion and development will incorporate another 400 hectares in Tambon Baan Chaang. Today, the villages of Tambon Khan Haam are virtually encircled by factories and major roads. Of the 134 factories in the park, 21 or 16 per cent are domestically owned and the remainder foreign invested and most of these (93 or 69 per cent), Japanese invested. In terms of product areas, the park represents the full swathe of the industries which have propelled Thailand's export-oriented industrialisation efforts since the mid-1980s: electronics, automobile parts, car assembly, textiles and apparel, footwear, and food and food processing (Table 1). As the Rojana Industrial Park has expanded so the demand for labour has grown in parallel. According to the Park's Administration Department officer, most of the workers employed by the factories are non-local in origin and approximately 70 per cent of these non-local workers are migrants from the northeast, Thailand's poorest region and a traditional labour reservoir. (19)

The dominant non-farm occupation in the villages of Tambon Khan Haam is, unsurprisingly, therefore factory-based employment. This, however, has led to the expansion of other associated businesses and employment. Migrant workers have created a demand for housing as well as the various services and amenities that such workers require from restaurants and bars through to beauty salons, mini-marts and taxi services. Although these migrants may have lived in Tambon Khan Haam for several years, they are, in most cases, still officially registered as living in their villages of origin. The de facto and de jure populations of the villages in the Tambon, therefore, differ not by just a handful of individuals but by a very large margin indeed (see below).

Tambon Khan Haam, circa 1960

Villagers, in 1960, were born rice farmers and their main activities were related to rice farming. (20) To be a villager was to be a farmer, and to be a farmer was to be a chao naa, or rice farmer. In the 1960s, identities in Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom were fashioned around the cultivation of rice, and orientated around the village. One crop of broadcast (rather than transplant) rice was grown during the rainy season. Rice farming was the main occupation and preoccupation of villagers and securing sufficient rice to meet the subsistence needs of the household was the driving livelihood logic. In general, villagers were not willing to sell their land, both because it was inherited from their ancestors (so that there was a moral obligation to pass the land on to the next generation) and because most villagers could not comprehend any alternative to the life of the rice farmer. No land meant, to most villagers, no livelihood. This axiom applied to land owners and tenant farmers alike because while the latter may not have owned land they nonetheless often had access to it through community norms.

It is tempting to correlate the image that elderly villagers provided of life and society nearly half a century ago with James Scott's notion of the 'moral economy' in Southeast Asia (21) and, certainly, there are Thai scholars who infuse their descriptions of traditional village life with such moral sentiments. Perhaps the most influential of these scholars is Chatthip Nartsupha:
   The Thai village economy in the past was a subsistence economy.
   Production for food and for own use persisted and could be
   reproduced without reliance on the outside world. Bonds within the
   village were strong. Control of land was mediated by membership of
   the community. Cooperative exchange labour was used in production.
   Individual families were self-sufficient.... Beliefs were held in
   common ... Kinship links were maintained. People cooperated in
   social activities and there was no class division, except for the
   existence of slaves who were accepted as part of the family. There
   was no class conflict in the village. (22)

There are two difficulties with adopting this line of argument, however. First of all, 'moral economy' is a catch-all term to describe a broad set of norms, structures and practices and, while it may be valuable as a scholarly device, lacks the precision to be able adequately to pick up the degree to which villages (and villagers) moved (and move) across the landscape of morality and rationality. Perhaps more importantly, and second, the narratives that were related to us probably say more about the present than they do about the past and should not, therefore, be taken as accurate insights into the past lives of villagers. That said, and drawing on interviews with more elderly villagers, we can safely say that until the 1970s, the inhabitants of the study sites were largely self-sufficient in food. They cultivated their own rice, grew fruit and vegetables in their house compounds, kept chickens, and caught fish in the canals and natural waterways. One way or another, farm work defined the pattern of life for much of the year. Jobs outside farming were scarce in the 1960s, travel was relatively difficult and expensive, and land provided security. The only exception to this was during the dry season when men might move temporarily to Bangkok to supplement their income through taking on construction work after the harvest period in March. In June, these wage labourers would, however, invariably return to farming. One of the first systematic village studies to be undertaken in Thailand--the 'Village Ayutthaya' study of 1970--accurately describes the style of life that villagers recounted to us:
   The physical and social universe of a farmer is relatively simple.
   Its center at the most elementary level is the homestead where
   family life evolves and livelihood activity is organized. Other
   centers in a wider sphere of social relationships are the war
   [monastery] and various meeting places such as stores and so on, as
   opportunities arise. Likewise, the family and household are the
   primary focus of social relationships extending outwards to
   neighbours and friends in the same community. These natural ties
   constitute the normal basis for cooperation and association for
   social and economic purposes. This is the intimate universe of the
   Ayutthaya villagers. (23)

In Jacques Amyot's agricultural sub-districts of Thap Nam and Ban Chung, 85 per cent and 83 per cent of the labour force respectively were involved in agriculture, and for 81 per cent and 68 per cent, it was their main occupation. The dominance of farming extended from work to income: in Thap Nam, 86 per cent of household income was derived from farming while the figure for Ban Chung was 85 per cent. (24)

From there to here: The Reconfiguring of Tambon Khan Haam

The Thai village, self-evidently, has not disappeared--it is still present in the rural landscape. Indeed, many regard the village, farming and, more particularly, wet rice farming as emblematic of what it is to be Thai and to be a defining feature of Thai-ness:
   Agriculture has created Thailand and continues to shape the Thai
   identity, support Thai lifestyles, and portray the Kingdom to the
   world. The very association of food and rice in the Thai language,
   and the tenacity with which Thai farmers have clung to planting at
   least enough rice for their own family before engaging in cash
   crops, testify to the deep association of wet rice culture and the
   peoples who are Thai. (25)

The issue we wish to explore--and the contention we wish to make--is whether Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom have metamorphosed in a more profoundly different way than the usual incremental change model permits, and statements such as Lindsay Falvey's, above, allow. There are four ways in which we can approach the issue of change in Tambon Khan Haam. First of all, in terms of structural changes in livelihoods (the 'what' and 'how' of livelihoods); second, in terms of the geographical context in which livelihoods are pursued (the 'where' of livelihoods); third, in terms of the cultural, social, economic and environmental context or underpinnings of the livelihoods that are pursued (the 'why' of livelihoods); and finally, in terms of the type of social space that the village constitutes. As we will see, in each of these respects, the study villages have experienced change which would seem to be rather more than incremental.

Livelihoods and economy

Today, few villagers in Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom farm and even fewer would describe themselves as 'farmers' (Table 2). Work in the factories of the Rojana Industrial Park or in one of the several other industrial parks and estates in Ayutthaya province have, for many, become the main sources of income. Older villagers may work as housekeepers while the younger generations, most having completed nine years of compulsory schooling through to mot saam (lower secondary school), are employed as waged workers on assembly lines. Those with higher level qualifications may work in factories' administrative offices.

Education plays a central role in segmenting the labour market through providing an entree into factory work. Those without lower secondary schooling are, generally, not able to access such jobs and educational qualifications become still more important as one works up the employment ladder. In Jacques Amyot's Ayutthaya village study mentioned above, the role and place of education was 'very limited indeed'. (26) This was not because villagers did not value education per se, but because they could not see any functional connection between education and farming. If their children were not able to escape from the village, then why waste scarce resources on schooling and, at the same time, deprive themselves of needed help at home and in the fields? (27) Several key changes in the period between Amyot's study and our own work have served to turn this logic on its head. First of all, education has become valued not only in itself but as a necessary qualification--a sine qua non--to access many areas of work outside farming. Second, schooling has become far more widely available and accessible. Third, the necessary contribution of children to the farming household labour unit has declined. And finally, the alternative occupations, which were so remote in the minds and the experiences of most of Amyot's parents, have become real options for virtually all families. Indeed, given the decline in farming, most see little choice but to take the education route to a sustainable livelihood and hoped-for prosperity.

It is important, however, to see divisions of the labour market not always being reflected in equally sharp wage differentials. Uncle Kaew, for example, who left school after four years of primary schooling (bor sii) finds he is able to earn more as a construction worker--up to 700 baht a day, against the minimum daily wage for Ayutthaya province of 155 baht--than do most women and men working in factories. As Uncle Kaew explained, however, the young often prefer to work in factories, rather than on the land or in construction, even if the daily wage is less. That said, it is not purely an issue of preference and there are a range of competing attractions to casual versus factory work (Table 3). It is also important to consider the stability of work and the non-pecuniary benefits that come from working in a factory owned by a large company.

In addition to factory work, there has been a steady expansion in other work opportunities linked to the growth and diversification of the Thai economy. Some of these are in the formal economy, such as office administrative work, employment in state enterprise offices, or as teachers, nurses and various local government officers. There is also a range of informal or semi-formal opportunities, many directly linked to the presence of the Rojana Industrial Park. These include operating small noodle stalls, working as street food vendors, running laundry businesses and VCD rental stores, or selling ready-cooked or easy-cooked food from home. All of these latter possibilities proliferated to serve, in large part, the needs of factory workers.

In the two study villages, among the 142 households included in the semistructured questionnaire, just 32 or 22 per cent had access to land. If we pare this down to agricultural land, the number drops to 28 households, or 20 per cent. Even this figure, however, overstates the role and significance of land and farming in Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom because a significant number of plots were lying idle and unused (15 out of 42) at the time of the survey and an additional number were rented out to other households (19 out of 42), the owners having de facto withdrawn from farming even if they still owned some land. What we saw, instead, was some evidence of a professionalisation of farming as a small number of households accumulated relatively large tracts of land--often in other districts and provinces. Thus, of the 28 households who had access to farmland, three had more than 100 rai or 16 ha and two owned over 50 rai (8 ha). Of this land, 100 rai (16 ha) was situated in Nakhon Sawan province, 97 rai (16 ha) in Phetchabun province, and 30 rai (5 ha) in Nakhon Ratchasima province, all effectively beyond reach in terms of day-to-day farm management. The other households had much smaller land holdings: 13 owned less than 10 rai (less than 2 ha), and seven less than 20 rai (3 ha) (Table 4). We see, therefore, a process underway in the two study villages where, for the majority of the population, farming has become a historical artefact--a memory. Those five households who have accumulated significant land holdings (50 rai + [8 ha]) have made the transition to becoming agrarian entrepreneurs, rather than remaining semi-subsistence agriculturalists.

The full and partial withdrawal of so many households from farming has been driven--at the village level--by a coincidence of environmental, economic and cultural factors. Mrs Thongkhun, for example, recounted how rice farming, for her, had become environmentally almost impossible. Snails (hoi cherri) and rats would eat her rice, the water in the irrigation canal no longer always reached her fields, and when it did the water was so contaminated with effluent from the surrounding factories that the rice would not grow. (28) Furthermore, even before the physical conditions had become severe, the economics of rice farming were such that the costs of production sometimes exceeded the returns she would receive. The buying power of farmers in Thailand has declined even as output has risen with terms of trade swinging against farming so that in 2000, farmers were having to sell four times as much rice to buy a motorbike as they had to in 1960. (29) Finally, social and cultural change have made farming an unattractive and low status occupation for many younger men and women who opt, wherever and whenever possible, for factory work. (30) Available labour to work on her fields is simply not available to Mrs Thongkhun. She may still own 10 rai (less than 2 ha) of rice land, but she does not farm it. Other villagers also continue to own land but, as a final and definitive statement as to their relationship with the land, have sold the top soil rendering it useless for rice agriculture. This, of course, cuts off any possibility of a return to farming at some future date.

One of the reasons why Tambon Khan Haam's economy and the livelihoods of its inhabitants have changed is because of the simple physical integration of the village into the wider regional, national and international economies. Buses operate from the main road to Uthai and Muang districts and motorcycle-taxis are available to take villagers to the main road or further afield. While public transport is ubiquitous, for many villagers it is not a service they require; they have their own, private modes of transport for most journeys. Travel, even to Bangkok, is quick and cheap. After the village road was upgraded in the mid-1970s, it became easier for men temporarily to move to Bangkok to work as wage labourers on the construction sites of the capital. While the village is situated in a comparatively agriculturally rich area, only one crop of rice could be grown each year. Even in the 1970s, this was proving insufficient to meet the growing needs of villagers, particularly for a cash income, and securing supplementary jobs during the dry season was therefore becoming increasingly important, even a necessity. (31)

So, there was a good deal of change occurring in Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom, as early as the 1960s and 1970s. However all these changes, until the 1980s, and for the great bulk of the population, were supplementary and subservient to farming. They were supplementary in the sense that they did not displace farming (and, especially rice farming) from its role as the central pillar supporting rural livelihoods. And they were subservient to the degree that farming came first. Men would migrate to Bangkok, but only after the rice harvest. Women would work in factories, but only if surplus labour could be freed for such work. Farming retained its central, defining role in rural life and livelihoods. All else was in thrall to the demands and exigencies of farming and, more particularly, rice farming. This is given support in Amyot's 1970 study of Ayutthaya where time allocated to different activities for a sub-sample of farmers was tracked over a 12-month period (Figures 2a and 2b). This indicates how it was the seasonal demands of farming, and particularly rice farming, which dictated the temporal pattern of non-farm work and activity. In total, over the year, 55 per cent of available time in the sub-districts of Ban Chung and Thap Nam was spent on agriculture and agriculture-related work, 22 per cent on domestic activities, one per cent on cottage industries, and 22 per cent on off-farm work. (32) However, during the peak farming months of June to August and December to January, work in agriculture rose to two-thirds or more of available time.


The 1980s and 1990s saw these nascent changes accelerate and deepen in terms of their impact, influence and ubiquity. Today, it is farming that has become supplementary and subservient. The traditional relationship between farm and non-farm, between agriculture and non-agriculture has, in short, been turned on its head in Baan Khokmayom and Baan Khan Haam.

Rural-urban relations and agrarian transitions in an industrial era

The effects of the Rojana Industrial Park were felt even before the first factory began to sign up employees--in the guise of escalating land prices. Land buying by agents working for the Park began in 1983. (33) The village headwoman of Baan Khokmayom reported that before the Park began operating, the price of land in her village was around 3,000-4,000 baht per rai. When land agents began to arrive in the village, this rose more than 10-fold and by 1983-84, land was changing hands for up to 60,000-70,000 baht a rai. In 1989, the figure had reached 2 million baht per rai and today, prime roadside land commands as much as 5-6 million baht per rai. This equates to US$0.85-1.0 million per hectare. With the lure of such enormous wealth, villagers, who for generations had depended on the land for their well-being and who saw land as a temporary gift to be passed onto their descendants, were enticed to sell. As villagers put it, farmers became millionaires overnight. A few villagers sold all their lands; others kept some in reserve to continue to farm and perhaps sell in the future. Reflecting this shift in livelihood priorities, not only was land sold, but so too was the hardware or equipment of farming. Aunt La-Aor, for example, converted her grain barn into a storeroom and her threshing floor into a garage, reasoning that she would not need them again.

The opening of the Rojana Industrial Park in 1988, then, can be regarded as a break in the economic history of the two villages. But it is important to appreciate that this is only one of many parks and estates and an even greater multitude of factories within commuting distance of the villages. (34) There has been a multiplication of job opportunities for local villagers so that they can work outside agriculture without leaving the village. (35) But it is not just that local people can work in local factories. Perhaps more important have been the multiplier effects associated with the influx of thousands of migrants to the area. As noted above, villagers have exploited this market through opening restaurants, convenience stores, mini-marts, grocery shops, beauty salons, and more. For those local people who have built hor pak--dormitories--to house the migrants, the business opportunities and the potential returns have been even greater.

Demographic turbulence: The Emergence of a dormitory village

Like many villages in Thailand, Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom have experienced a significant degree of demographic turbulence. This much we know; the difficulty is identifying exactly how much. We know that in Thailand households and individuals are becoming increasingly mobile. Sometimes this is reflected in daily commuting to jobs outside the village. Occasionally, whole households up and move, settling elsewhere. More often, it is sons, daughters or husbands who leave home, while the rest of the family stays put. These sojourns may last just a few months but not unusually extend over several years with the migrant returning home a few times a year and only for a short while. In most instances, however, they remain--from an official standpoint--registered as resident in their natal village. (36) It is also normally the case that these migrants remain functionally and emotionally attached to their households and villages of origin. (37)

In the two study sites, labour migration by residents is relatively rare, although migration for education is more prevalent. Much more common is daily mobility in the form of commuting as young (particularly) women and men take up employment in local factories, returning home each evening. The main source of demographic turbulence in Tambon Khan Haam, however, is the in-migration of young factory workers from other regions of Thailand. This is most pronounced in Baan Khokmayom because it is here that the hor pak or dormitories are concentrated. (38)

In 2003, according to figures collected by the Kor Chor Chor 2 Khor, the population of Baan Khokmayom was 425 in 126 households (Table 5). (39) The Uthai district census bureau recorded a figure of 378 for 2005. This is the official population of the village. The records of the Tambon Health Station, however, record a population for the village of 1,257 (2005), three times the official figure. Even this, though, underplays the degree of demographic turbulence in Baan Khokmayom. On the basis of our village survey, we estimate that the population of Baan Khokmayom was closer to 3,000 in 2005 / 06.

The hot pak in Baan Khokmayom provide the most striking and abrupt visual transformation in the tambon. The first hor pak opened around 1990 and construction has been ongoing since then as villagers who did not sell their land have turned their empty fields into cash cows. Today, there are around 30 dormitories in Baan Khokmayom. These range from small, single-storey affairs with just a handful--five or six--of rooms, through to grandiose, multi-storey structures with from 50 to 100 rooms. Rental costs in 2006 were 1,500-2,000 baht a month. (40) Villagers who have built and run these hor pak have made the transition from farmers into entrepreneurs and businesspeople (rather than farmers into workers). Not all villagers have been equally able to exploit the opportunities offered by the arrival of the Park and we can see preexisting inequalities being, to some degree, perpetuated and amplified over time. Those families with ample land, including some within the precincts of the Park, sold this land and used the capital to buy cheaper plots in the village area with the specific intention of building hor pak. Those villagers who owned little or no land were not able to translate their residency into wealth to the same degree, or at least with such relative ease.

Migrants to Baan Khokmayom are mostly from the northeast of Thailand and they stay in rental dormitories. Their aim in coming to Ayutthaya is to find work and, more particularly, factory work. None come in a search for agricultural employment. Most arrive alone; those few who arrive with their families send their children to the local school. These migrants do not register as Ayutthaya or Tambon Khan Haam people; they remain registered as living in their source communities and while they regard themselves as temporary migrants, many stay for years, returning home just twice during each year, for the long holidays associated with Thai New Year, and for Songkraan. But while they are de facto inhabitants of Tambon Khan Haam (and de jure resident somewhere else), they rarely participate in community activities. Only on those few occasions when a migrant falls in love with a local man or woman and marries does a temporary migrant becomes a permanent settler and, in so doing, an elemental part of the community.

Society, community and the norms of life

The arrival of the industrial park and the factories has transformed the study villages in economic terms. This much is obvious and relatively easy to document. But arguably more important and insidious is the way in which a new, consumerist lifestyle has insinuated itself into the village. The villages are now 'connected' in a manner that would have been inconceivable a few decades ago. This connection is not just linked to roads and the availability of cheap and rapid transport--important though they are--but more generally to the manner in which villagers are connected to a set of desires, aspirations, norms, expectations and outlooks which can be broadly seen as modern or than samai (up-to-date) and which are profoundly different from those they have displaced. (41)

Growing wealth has permitted greater consumerism and it has also led to greater social stratification. The 'community' has become increasingly frayed for three sets of reasons. First, because the interests of villagers do not coincide as they used to. The interests of factory workers conflict with the recalcitrant few who struggle to continue to farm. The interests of those who run the hot pak--in the case of Baan Khokmayom--are at odds with villagers who find the structures and their inhabitants an intrusion. The interests of migrants rub up against those of local residents. It is notable that villagers refer to migrants with the catch-all expression dek hor, or dormitory children, denying them any sense of agency and individuality beyond their physical presence in the dormitories of Baan Khokmayom. (42) And the interests of villagers--both permanent and the migrant sojourners--are threatened by non-locals who are attracted by the presence of so much wealth and who have to be kept at arm's length by fences, gratings and locked doors.

The second cause of this erosion of community, and the community ideal and the social covenant that used to bind villagers, arises from the presence of so many migrants who exist in the villages (particularly Baan Khokmayom) but, in a sense, do not live or belong there. This is not a simple 'us and them' conflict but, nonetheless, there is very definitely a fraying of the community covenant. Phin, a 25-year-old migrant from Ang Thong, used to work in the Rojana Industrial Park and stayed in a hor pak close to Wat Khaan Haam. She told us that she knew neither the local villagers nor other migrants living in the same hor pak. She went to work early in the morning, returned each evening, and worked every day of the week. She had no time to socialise, even for a chat. Besides, no fellow workers from the same factory were living in her hot pak. Her place of social identification on a day-to-day basis was the factory; the village was simply a place to rest her head in the evening. She has no sense of belonging to the village, no attachment, no sense of 'home', and no particular feelings for the place.

The third source of loss of community cohesion is linked to the sharpening disparities in wealth and the way in which richer villagers have managed to partially disengage themselves from the village. For example, the pupils of the two local schools are mainly drawn from migrant families and poorer village households. More prosperous villagers send their children to study in Uthai or in Ayutthaya where schools are considered to be better, and where they learn with children from other places rather than from their natal village. The widely accepted view that village schools are inferior represents a way in which social identities and relations are becoming disembedded from the village as a spatial and social unit. Pupils who study outside the tambon are picked up by privately run school buses at around 7 a.m. in order to reach their destination before 8 a.m., when the school day begins, and they often stay at school for evening classes. The demands of factory shift work means that both parents are often away for large parts of the day. Children may make their own way to school after their parents have left for work, stay on after the school day has finished (or return home to grandparents rather than parents), and study in tutor classes at the weekend. One former kamnan (sub-district head) of Tambon Khan Haam told us: 'They [children] do not listen to us [grandparents].... They are not my own children. I cannot teach them much.'

Hor pak are not just structures from which villagers can extract a profit; they are also sites of social and cultural interaction--and change. Unmarried couples sometimes share rooms to save on rent and these dormitories are places where love affairs and relationships blossom between migrants from different areas. Living outside the restraining and constraining moral context of their home villages and households, and existing in a space where they do not belong and therefore where community norms are felt not to apply, migrants have a considerable degree of latitude in their behaviour. As Marjorie Meucke writes, 'it is a time of major change in sexual practices in lowland Thai society ... where behaviour is increasingly inconsistent with sexual norms for female sexuality, particularly in regard to girls and young women practising premarital sex'. (43) This is often especially acute in the context of female factory work where geographical separation and the emergent identity of young women as (partially) independent wage earners unsettles 'normal' patterns of behaviour. (44)

But migrants, while they may be spatially disconnected from their villages and households of origin, are far from being socially and economically disconnected. The experience of working away from home, in Ayutthaya, changes the migrant and also changes the village from where the migrant has come. Migration brings new flows of ideas, wishes and desires, as well as money, which can--and do--rework locally imagined futures in source communities. Remittance economies are also, therefore, remittance cultures and societies. As Deidre McKay shows in the context of the Ifugao of the Philippines, these re-reworked futures feed back into the decisions that are taken regarding, for example, what crops to grow:
   the crops that are planted in Ifugao fields say volumes about how
   the people planting them envision themselves in relation to both
   the state and to global labour markets. Bean gardens can be read as
   remittance landscapes--they both anticipate remittances and produce
   the capital needed to go overseas--and are thus tied to the
   translocal nature of apparently local places. (45)

What McKay sees in the villages and fields of the Philippines are social, economic and physical landscapes which are being refashioned by migration. What people do, how they do those things, how people relate to each other, what and where they eat, how they dress, and the aspirations they hold dear, for example, are either outcomes of migration or are affected by the process.

Wage labouring in a factory for a stable salary has become the preferred livelihood choice for the young in the study sites and, it seems, in Thailand more widely. Working under the sun is not only exhausting and physically hard, it also darkens the skin and few villagers in either of the study villages work in the fields. This is so deeply prevalent now that the young, it was said to us more than once, do not know how to grow rice, let alone raise livestock. The thread of knowledge which can be traced back to the origins of Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom in the Ayutthaya period has been cut. It is not, therefore, just that younger villagers have made the occupational choice to avoid farming; few have the knowledge and skills easily to re-engage even should they wish to--or have to. Aunt La-Aor's 38-year-old daughter, for example, who completed her higher education in Bangkok, could actually count the number of times she had visited her parents' fields and seen their rice crop. This stands in striking contrast to Michael Moerman's assessment of life in 1959 in the village of Baan Ping in northern Thailand where to be a villager was to be a farmer--to 'make fields' (het na)--an 'unconsidered, automatic, primordial' identity. (46)

Informants told us that with road development, came kwaam charoen, or 'progress', and this led to rifts between households in the village and also caused the village 'community' to be socially and physically divided. Roads replaced canals, and road transport replaced travel by foot and boat. No longer did villagers have to pass fellow villagers' houses as they walked to the fields or to the market. Over time, villagers lost touch with their community as an entity; strangers, previously so quickly and easily noticed, can today walk through the village undetected and unheralded. Fences and iron window gratings have become essential to protect the inhabitants and their wealth from thieves and other criminals.

The recognition that the industrial park has stimulated a rippling process of wealth accumulation is not, therefore, unalloyed and there is a real sense among older members of the villages that something important has been lost, and what has been gained is not just more money but also more crime, more individuality, more selfishness, and more social malaise. Local people associate the increase in crime with the presence of so many newcomers, effectively strangers in village terms, who are wealth-generating but also, it is felt, crime-creating. There are other identified social effects that have come from the money and changing identities propelled by modernisation and accelerated by the presence of the factories. Drug-taking, truancy, lack of respect, lax norms, the decline in war (monastery) attendance are linked, in villagers' minds, with the changes that were set in train from the late 1980s.

The Metanarrative of change

Since the 1960s, agriculture in Tambon Khan Haam has been squeezed by a range of environmental, economic and socio-cultural factors: fluctuating agricultural prices, especially rice prices; unfavourable input / output ratios; declining terms of trade running against agricultural commodities; poor water management and continuing flooding; the seasonality of work; the declining productivity of the land; and the emergence of farming as a generally low status activity. Factory work, in these terms, can be seen to have come to the rescue of rural households facing a range of livelihood constraints and impediments. In their 20-year update of the original Jacques Amyot study, Suriya Veeravong and Amara Pongsapich state that 'unless a village is situated in a favourable environment where agricultural production can be predicted on the basis of input injected into the field, villagers have no hope in agriculture'; non-farm activities must be generated to meet the livelihood shortfall. (47) In the village of Thap Nam, between 1969-70 and 1989-90, the share of household income derived from agriculture declined from 86 per cent to 35 per cent. As in Tambon Khan Haam, this occurred, it should be reiterated, in the historic heartland of the Thai rice industry.

It is important to emphasise, however, that it is not just the communities (i.e. the social entities) of Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom which have become functionally and economically linked to the neighbouring industrial park, but the villages as geographical containers. To put it another way, many of the de facto inhabitants of the two villages are not part of the community but have been attracted here from other parts of the country.

Any objective view of Tambon Khan Haam would conclude that this area, so recently a sub-district of agricultural communities in a rich rice-growing area, has been transformed. It is not undergoing transformation but has completed a profound transition into a social and economic realm where factory work and non-farm livelihoods dominate. Furthermore, there would seem to be little scope--or hope--that the area and its people can return to an agriculture-oriented life. Land has been redeveloped, the environment has been reworked and in many instances degraded, and the knowledge of agricultural production, especially rice farming, has been lost. The desire for a return to a farming-focused way of life--a process of 're-peasantisation'--is also not evident. Finally, it is becoming more and more difficult to think of these villages as 'communities' in the sense that there is a historical and social covenant that links the people who live in the geographical space that we call Tambon Khan Haam.

This paper has presented two familiar narratives of change in Thailand. The first narrative is of deep transformation in economy, society and environment reflected in changing employment and consumption patterns, production regimes, environmental resources and social norms. Taken together, these changes could be considered to have caused 'the village' to have evaporated, whether it is viewed as a social community, or as a spatial unit of production and consumption. Returning to Hirsch's division between ' the village' and 'the village', it would seem that the latter has been profoundly destabilised and reworked, at least in these cases from Ayutthaya. (48) Of course 'the village' as a notion, idea, ideal and discursive category lives on.

The second familiar narrative is of growing material wealth accompanied by deterioration in many of the other aspects of well-being. This interplay of well-being and ill-being, of positive change being (almost inevitably) accompanied by negative change, is rooted deeply in Buddhist cosmology. Khwaarn sukh (happiness) goes hand-in-hand with khwaarn tukh (suffering). We can take this a little further to consider the interplay of development as modernisation (pattana/kaanpattana) and development as 'good change'. State-led development efforts can be dated from the introduction of the first five-year development plan in 1961--which ushered in the development era or sarnai pattana. This effort, in its own terms, has been remarkably successful. Thailand has made the transition from a poor, agrarian economy to a comparatively wealthy, mixed economy. Poverty has declined from 57 per cent in 1963 to 11 per cent in 2004 (and just 5 per cent in the central plains) and Thailand, by the early 1990s, had become an Asian 'miracle'. For Tambon Khan Haam we can see the development era arriving in the guise of primary and secondary schooling, electricity and piped water (1970s), health facilities, and a laterite road connecting the villages to the main highway (1974-75). But behind these headline figures of burgeoning national prosperity there has always been the sense that khwaarn tukh, too, was being produced. This tension lies at the heart of the UNDP's recent Thailand Human Development Report which sets out and lauds the King of Thailand's Sufficiency Economy and uses it as a means to think about and act out a more sustainable, equitable and humanising development ethos:
   The Sufficiency Economy is an approach to life and conduct which is
   applicable at every level from the individual through the family
   and community to the management and development of the nation. It
   promotes a middle path, especially in developing the economy to
   keep up with the world in the era of globalization. Sufficiency has
   three key principles: moderation; wisdom or insight; and the need
   for built-in resilience against the risks which arise from internal
   or external change. (49)

In the wake of the economic crisis in Thailand, it became normal to highlight the vulnerability that comes with integration into the global economic order and Thailand's (over-)dependence on foreign direct investment. Radical critics of the Kingdom's industrialisation write of a process of 'deeply polarizing peripheral industrialization in which the benefits of rapid industrial growth accrue to a few and proletarianization is essentially marginalizing'. (50) The crisis led to a re-energised interest in localism, which made the transition from a view held and promoted by a few on the margins of Thai society to a mainstream concern embraced by the pillars of the establishment from leading politicians to the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB). The irony of mainstream actors lending their support to a vision which would seem to fly in the face of the essence of state development strategies implemented from the 1960s is clear: 'Localist discourse was strongly critical of the mainstream development paradigm that was being aggressively promoted by state bureaucrats, with its rapacious use of natural resources, intense materialism, consumerism, commercialisation and privatisation, and its external market orientation.' (51)

Both Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom, but particularly the latter, have made the transition from being farming-centred agricultural communities into functional service nodes. With this in mind, we can conceptualise the village economy in two, rather different, ways. These make obvious the changing nature of the relationships between space, place and livelihoods in the context, specifically, of the study sites and, more widely, the Thai economy.

First of all, we can investigate the local economy in terms of the livelihoods of the inhabitants of the village. Through this lens, we discern a steep decline in the role of agriculture and farming, a rise in 'off-farm' manufacturing employment, and a significant development in non-agricultural, service sector activities linked to the emergence of Baan Khokmayom, particularly, as a 'dormitory' village. (52) A methodological issue in the context of this understanding of economic change is how we should deal with the migrant workers who reside in the study villages but neither 'live' there, in the deeper sense of the word, or work there. A second lens into understanding and interpreting the changing village economy is to focus on the village as an economic container--in other words, on the economic activities that occur in the spatial confines of the village and its lands. Taking this view, we see a decline in agriculture and farming, but not quite so dramatic as under the first perspective, and a significant rise in service sector activities linked to the presence of dormitories, restaurants, beauty parlours, laundry shops, mini marts, and so forth.

To end on a didactic note, we wish to reflect on the essence of 'rural-ness' and 'urban-ness' based on the framework set out in Table 6. This table builds on and extends some of the issues considered in Thompson's work in the village of Sungai Siputeh in Malaysia. (53) He argues that migration has led to the 'dissociation' of the Malay-peasant complex, taking migrants along multiple paths from Orang Kampung (Villagers) to Melayu Baru (New Malays). In Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom, identities are changing in a similar manner, but the village and villagers are being reworked and restructured in other ways too (Table 6). This reworking can be brought together and considered in terms of the altered spatialities of production, consumption and identity in the villages.

The village and its lands, once able to account and explain, in large measure, what people did and how they lived, today explain a fraction of livelihoods, and for that fraction in radically new ways. Farming has been displaced by service sector activities and, for many people, where they reside and where they work are no longer spatially coincident. Consumption patterns have been similarly delocalised as foods are sourced from beyond the village. More dramatically still, the village as a social unit has been fractured. Most obviously, this has been propelled by the influx of migrants who use the village as a place to sleep but not, usually, as a place to live. Even the original villagers, though, have seen their old commonalities fractured as social differentiation and widening inequalities have taken households along different paths towards modernity. This fracturing occurs between households on class / wealth lines, and within households along gender and (particularly) generational lines. The prosaic as well as the profound play a role in this process of differentiation which might be better termed, social separation. For instance, the fact that people no longer work together in the fields, but separately in their businesses or in factories; no longer pass each others' houses calling out words of greeting as they walk to the fields, but roar past on motorbikes or in cars and pick-ups; no longer gather collectively for village events where they can exchange and share, but watch television alone or in small groups; and no longer leave their houses open to receive all comers, but fence, lock and guard their homes to protect themselves and their wealth. It is not, therefore, just what people do in livelihood terms or what they aspire to achieve--important though these are--but the manner in which villagers engage with each other and the technologies that structure the human encounter.

Recounted like this, and it is hard not to think that developments over the last quarter of a century in Tambon Khan Haam have been broadly negative. That development, to use Robert Chambers' expression, has not been 'good change'. (54) This impression is partly because we have chosen to recount some of the history of Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom through the memories and the views of villagers. And for many villagers, important elements of the present compare unfavourable with the past--even if that past is an imagined one. Moreover this paper has focused attention on the dissolution and dissociation of the 'village community'. All that said, there is no doubt whatsoever that the inhabitants of the study villages are living longer and in better health, their children are better educated, the spectre of under-nutrition has been largely banished, and threats to life and livelihood are of a different scale to those of their forebears. These undoubted achievements, though, should not be employed to shield from view the fundamentally mixed outcomes of development as modernisation in Baan Khan Haam and Baan Khokmayom.

(1) World Bank, The East Asian miracle: Economic growth and public policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

(2) Along with the seven countries named here, the eighth of the World Bank's High Performing Asian Economies (thereafter HPAEs) was Japan. To the World Bank's eight original HPAEs, we can now also add two transitional economies, China and Vietnam. There is also a case for including India in a wider, pan-Asian formulation of the East Asian miracle.

(3) On the outskirts but within the administrative boundaries of Baan Khokmayom is the Rojanasab housing estate, a middle / low-income estate housing families from other areas of Thailand but drawn to Ayutthaya because of the work opportunities available.

(4) T. G. McGee, 'The Emergence of Desakota regions in Asia: Expanding a hypothesis', in The Extended metropolis: Settlement transition in Asia, ed. Norton Ginsburg, Bruce. Koppel and T.G. McGee (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991), pp. 17-18; see also T. G. McGee, 'Urbanisasi or kotadesasi? Evolving patterns of urbanization in Asia', in Urbanization in Asia: Spatial dimensions and policy issues, ed. Frank J. Costa, Ashok K. Dutt, Lawrence J. C. Ma and Allen G. Noble (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989), pp. 93-108.

(5) T. G. McGee, 'Distinctive urbanization in the peri-urban regions of East and Southeast Asia: (1) Renewing the debate', paper presented at the 7th International Congress of Asian Planning Schools Association, Sept. 2003, Hanoi.

(6) T. G. McGee and Charles Greenberg, 'The Emergence of extended metropolitan regions in ASEAN', ASEAN Economic Bulletin, 9, 1 (1992): 22-44.

(7) Douglas Webster, 'Urbanization: New drivers, new outcomes', in Thailand beyond the crisis, ed. Peter G. Warr (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005), pp. 285-314.

(8) Gavin W. Jones, 'The Thoroughgoing urbanisation of East and Southeast Asia', Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 38, 3 (1997): 237-49. He uses the term 'ideational' separation, p. 248. See also Gavin W. Jones, Ching-lung Tsay and Bhishna Bajracharya, 'Demographic and employment change in megacities of South-East and East Asia', Working Papers in Demography 80, Demography Programme, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1999; WorkingPapers/80.pdf (last accessed on 3 Oct. 2007).

(9) Shen Xiaoping and Lawrence J. C. Ma, 'Privatization of rural industry and de facto urbanization from below in southern Jiangsu, China', Geoforum, 36 (2005): 761-77. See also Lawrence J. C. Ma and Ming Fan, 'Urbanization from below: The Growth of towns in Jiangsu, China', Urban Studies, 31, 10 (1994): 1625-45.

(10) Farewell to farms: De-agrarianisation and employment in Africa, ed. D. Bryceson and V. Jamal (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997); D. Bryceson, 'The Scramble in Africa: Reorienting rural livelihoods', World Development, 30, 5 (2002): 725-39; Jonathan Rigg, More than the soil: Rural change in Southeast Asia (Harlow, Essex: Prentice Hall, 2001), pp. 6-7 and 118-21.

(11) Relevant studies include: Y. Hayami and M. Kikuchi, A Rice village saga: Three decades of green revolution in the Philippines (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 40-4 and 207-25; J. E. Eder, A Generation later: Household strategies and economic change in the rural Philippines (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999), pp. 71-90 and 146-56; Philip Kelly, Landscapes of globalisation: Human geographies of economic change in the Philippines (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 126-38; Philip Kelly, 'Everyday urbanization: The Social dynamics of development in Manila's extended metropolitan region', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23, 2 (1999): 283-303, on the Philippines; Francois Molle and Thippawal Srijantr, Agrarian change and the land system in the Chao Phraya Delta (DORAS-DELTA research report no. 6, ORSTOM, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, 1999), pp. 17-51; F. Molle, 'Knowledge in the making: A Brief retrospective of village-level studies in the Chao Phraya Delta during the 20th century', in Thailand's rice bowl: Perspectives on agricultural and social change in the Chao Phraya Delta, ed. F. Molle and Thippawal Srijantr (Bangkok: White Lotus, Studies in Contemporary Thailand 12, 2003), pp. 11-35; and Jonathan Rigg and Sakunee Nattapoolwat, 'Embracing the global in Thailand: Activism and pragmatism in an era of de-agrarianisation', World Development, 29, 6 (2001): 945-60, on Thailand; Kato, 'The Emergence of abandoned paddy fields in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia', Tonan Aria Kenky [Southeast Asian Studies], 32, 2 (1994): 145-72, on Malaysia; J. Breman and G. Wiradi, Good times and bad times in rural lava: Case study of socio-economic dynamics in two villages towards the end of the twentieth century (Leiden: KITLV Press, 2002), pp. 173-227, on Indonesia; Jonathan Rigg, Southeast Asia: The Human landscape of modernization and development (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 280-95; Jonathan Rigg, 'Land, farming, livelihoods and poverty: Rethinking the links in the rural south', World Development, 34, 1 (2003): 180-202; and Rigg, More than the soil, more generally on Southeast Asia, pp. 83-121.

(12) R. E. Elson, The End of the peasantry in Southeast Asia: A Social and economic history of peasant livelihood, 1800-1990s (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), p. 33.

(13) Chatthip Nartsupha, 'The Village economy in pre-capitalist Thailand', in The Village concept in the transformation of rural Southeast Asia, studies from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, ed. Mason C. Hoadley and Christer Gunnarsson (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1996), pp. 69-70. Nartsupha's above article also appears in Back to the roots: Village and self reliance in a Thai context, ed. Seri Phongphit (Bangkok: Rural Development Documentation Centre, 1986), pp. 155-65; and Atsushi Kitahara, The Thai rural community reconsidered: Historical community formation and contemporary development movements (Bangkok: Political Economy Centre, Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, 1996).

(14) Jeremy Kemp, Seductive mirage: The Search for the village community in Southeast Asia (Dordrecht: Foris, 1988); Jeremy Kemp, 'Peasants and cities: The Cultural and social image of the Thai peasant community', Sojourn, 4, 1 (1989): 6-19; Jeremy Kemp, 'The Dialectics of village and state in modern Thailand', Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 22, 2 (1991): 312-26; Jonathan Rigg, 'Redefining the village and rural life: Lessons from Southeast Asia', Geographical Journal, 160, 2 (1994): 123-35; Rigg, More than the soil.

(15) Philip Hirsch, 'What is the Thai village?' in National identity and its defenders: Thailand today, ed. Craig J. Reynolds (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 2002), pp. 262-76.

(16) Refer to Chris Dixon, The Thai economy: Uneven development and internationalisation (London: Routledge, 1999) and Luxmon Wongsuphasawat, 'The Extended Bangkok metropolitan region and uneven industrial development in Thailand', in Uneven development in South East Asia, ed. Chris Dixon and David Drakakis-Smith (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997), pp. 196-220.

(17) Ibid., p. 219.

(18) Alpha Research, Pocket Thailand in figures, 2006 (Bangkok: Alpha Research Company Limited, 2006), p. 267.

(19) For an insight into the other 'end' of the migration process--in other words, into the source communities of the migrants who throng the study villages in Ayutthaya--refer to Michael J. G. Parnwell, 'The Power to change: Rebuilding sustainable livelihoods in north-east Thailand', Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies, 4, 2 (2005): 1-21; NO4_M)_1.PDF (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007).

(20) This discussion of the study villages in 1960 is drawn from discussions with elderly key informants in the villages and their life histories, supplemented with material drawn from Amyot's (1976) study. Jacques Amyot, Village Ayutthaya: Social and economic conditions of a rural population in central Thailand (Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute, 1976).

(21) James C. Scott, The Moral economy of the peasant: Rebellion and subsistence in Southeast Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976).

(22) Chatthip Nartsupha, The Thai village economy in the past, trans. Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit (Thailand, Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 1999); original Thai version printed in 1984.

(23) Amyot, Village Ayutthaya, p. 45. In fact, one of the authors of this paper, Suriya Veeravongs, was a young student research assistant on the original study. For a longitudinal update of the original Amyot study, refer to Suriya Veeravongs and Amara Pongsapich, 'Dynamics of Ayutthaya region', paper presented at the conference on 'The Chao Phraya Delta: Historical development, dynamics and challenges of Thailand's rice bowl' (Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Dec. 2000); delta/conf/Acrobat/Papers_Eng/Volume%202/Amara.pdf (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007).

(24) Ibid., pp. 33, 183.

(25) Lindsay Falvey, Thai agriculture: Golden cradle of millennia (Bangkok: Kasetsart University Press, 2000), p. 17.

(26) Amyot, Village Ayutthaya, p. 42.

(27) Ibid., p. 43.

(28) Hoi cherri is more commonly known as the golden apple snail (GAS), Pomacea canaliculata (Lamarck) (Gastropoda: Ampullariidae), a non-indigenous freshwater mollusc originating from Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia which probably arrived in Thailand in 1982 and was first recorded as a pest in 1988. See (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007) for background.

(29) UNDP, Thailand human development report 2007: Sufficiency economy and human development (Bangkok: United Nations Development Programme, 2007); NHDR2007bookENG.pdf (last accessed 23 Jan 2008).

(30) Interestingly, Amyot in his 1969-70 study also noted that the 'life of the farmer is not seen as prestigeful [sic]'. Amyot, Village Ayutthaya, p. 43.

(31) This is a point that Amyot also makes. Farming was not absorbing the increase in the labour force in the study villages in 1969-70 and he writes that 'villagers must find alternatives [to agriculture] to gain a livelihood'; ibid., p. 141.

(32) Ibid., p. 231.

(33) For another study of land buying, this time in northern Thailand, refer to Anchalee Singhanetra-Renard, 'Population mobility and the transformation of the village community in Northern Thailand', Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 40, 1 (1999): 69-87.

(34) Significantly, company buses bring workers daily to the Rojana Industrial Park from as far as 100 km away. The 'reach' of the park is, therefore, far from local.

(35) In other parts of Thailand, there has been a delocalisation of work where migration has been a necessary part of taking up employment opportunities outside agriculture. This would include the many hundreds of migrants who live in the dormitories in Baan Khokmayom.

(36) For studies of migration in Thailand, refer to Pilapa Esara, '"Women will keep the household": The Mediation of work and family by female labor migrants in Bangkok', Critical Asian Studies, 36, 2 (2004): 199-216; Theodore D. Fuller, Paul Lightfoot and Peerasit Kamnuansilpa, 'Rural-urban mobility in Thailand: A Decision-making approach', Demography, 22, 4 (1985): 565-79; Theodore D. Fuller, Paul Lightfoot and Peerasit Kamnuansilpa, 'Toward migration management: A Field experiment in Thailand', Economic Development and Cultural Change, 33 (1985): 601-21; Mary Beth Mills, 'Migrant labor takes a holiday: Reworking modernity and marginality in contemporary Thailand', Critique of Anthropology, 19, 1 (1999): 31-51; Mary Beth Mills, 'Contesting the margins of modernity: Women, migration, and consumption in Thailand', American Ethnologist, 24, 1 (1997): 37-61; Mary Beth Mills, Thai women in the global labor force: Consumed desires, contested selves (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999); Huw Jones and Sirinan Kittisuksathit, 'International labour migration and quality of life: Findings from rural Thailand', International Journal of Population Geography, 9 (2003): 517-30; Pattana Kitiarsa, 'Village transnationalism: Transborder identities among Thai-Isan migrant workers in Singapore' (Singapore: Asia Research Institute, ARI Working Paper series no. 71, 2006); ari/publication_details.asp?pubtypeid=WP&pubid=577 (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007); and Jonathan Rigg, International contract labor migration and the village economy: The Case of Tambon Don Han, Northeastern Thailand (Honolulu, Hawaii: East-West Center, Papers of the East-West Population Institute, no. 112, 1989).

(37) See also Ryoko Michinobu, Lives in transition: The Influence of northern Thailand's economic and cultural change on young factory women's sexual behaviour and HIV risk (Bangkok: Centre for Health Policy Studies, Mahidol University, 2005), p. 75.

(38) There are no dormitories in Baan Khan Haam because the village is physically quite small; there is simply too little space for such developments.

(39) This is baseline data collected at the village level by the Community Development Department and presented as Village Basic Information. The exercise has been undertaken every two years since 1986.

(40) The average wage for a factory worker on an assembly line was around 7,000 baht a month upwards in 2005 and the standard daily wage in Feb. 2006 in Ayutthaya Province was 155 baht a day.

(41) Refer to Mary Beth Mills' work for a discussion of what it means to be than samai in Thailand. Mills, 'Contesting the margins of modernity'; Mills, Thai women in the global labor force.

(42) In a study of young female factory workers in the north of Thailand, Ryoko Michinobu writes that local people spoke of sao nikhom or estate girls, imbuing this term with connotations of sexual looseness, and a dress and moral code which they found to be both modern and unacceptable. Michinobu, Lives in transition.

(43) Marjorie Meucke, 'Guest editorial: Shifting sexuality among lowland Thai women', Culture, Health and Sexuality, 6, 3 (2004): 185.

(44) Suchada Thaweesit, 'The Fluidity of Thai women's gendered and sexual subjectivities', Culture, Health and Sexuality, 6, 3 (2004): 205-19.

(45) Deidre McKay, 'Cultivating new local futures: Remittance economies and land-use patterns in Ifugao, Philippines', Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 34, 2 (2003): 306. See also Deidre McKay, 'Reading remittance landscapes: Female migration and agricultural transition in the Philippines', Geografisk Tidsskrift, Danish Journal of Geography, 105, 1 (2005): 89-99.

(46) Michael Moerman and Patricia Miller, 'Changes in a village's relations with its environment', in Culture and environment in Thailand: A Symposium of the Siam Society (Bangkok: Siam Society, 1989), p. 308.

(47) Suriya Veeravongs and Amara Pongsapich, 'Dynamics of Ayutthaya region', pp. 5-6 (emphasis added).

(48) Hirsch, 'What is the Thai village?'

(49) UNDP, Thailand human development report 2007, p. xv.

(50) Jim Glassman, Thailand at the margins: Internationalization of the state and the transformation of labour (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 108; see also Nicola Bullard, Walden Bello and Kamal Malhotra, 'Taming the tigers: The IMF and the Asian crisis', Third World Quarterly, 19, 3 (1998): 505-55; (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007).

(51) Parnwell, 'The Power to change', p. 3.

(52) There was also some development of 'off-farm agriculture' in the guise of a small number of households accumulating agricultural land in other provinces.

(53) Eric C. Thompson, 'Migrant subjectivities and narratives of the kampung in Malaysia', Sojourn, 17, 1 (2002): 52-75; Eric C. Thompson, 'Malay male migrants: Negotiating contested identities in Malaysia', American Ethnologist, 30, 3 (2003): 418-38; Eric C. Thompson, 'Rural villages and socially urban spaces in Malaysia', Urban Studies, 41, 12 (2004): 2357-76; See also Joel S. Kahn, 'Anthropology and modernity', Current Anthropology, 42, 5 (2001): 651-80.

Jonathan Rigg is a Professor at the Department of Geography, Durham University, UK; Suriya Veeravongs and Lalida Veeravongs are both Researchers at the Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI), Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand and Piyawadee Rohitarachoon is a Lecturer in Naresuan University, Phayao, Thailand. Correspondence in connection to this paper should be addressed to: (Jonathan Rigg) J. D. ; (Suriya Veeravongs) ; (Lalida Veeravongs) and (Piyawadee Rohitarachoon) The fieldwork on which this paper draws was funded by a grant from the Danish Council for Development Research (grant #91206), the research funding arm of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), and is part of a larger project investigating rural-urban dynamics in four countries of Asia and Africa (Vietnam, Ghana and Tanzania as well as Thailand, see (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007).

The paper has also benefited and been partially supported by a separate Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant on 'The Challenges of the agrarian transition in Southeast Asia'. See (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007). The discussion of well-being towards the end of the paper includes ideas and discussions linked to a review of the UK's Economic and Social Research Council Research Group on Well-being in Developing Countries held in Khon Kaen, Thailand, in Sept. 2006. See news/news.htm (last accessed on 13 Dec. 2007). We would also like to acknowledge the valuable and helpful comments of two anonymous referees.
Rojana Industrial Park: Product types and number of
employees (2005)

                       Number of    Number of
Product type           factories    employees

Electronics                31        18,883
Auto parts                 29        11,095
Metals and plastics        20         3,319
Electric parts              6         1,597
Food and food
  processing                5         1,030
Textiles and
  apparel                   4         1,320
Others                     23         6,166
Unidentified               16            --
Total numbers             134        43,410

Source: Adapted from figures in the Rojana Industrial
Park Customer's Information Report of July 2005

Primary occupations of adults, Baan Khan Haam and Baan
Khokmayom (1995 and 2005)

Primary occupations            Baan Khan Haam
of adults
                              1995 (%)   2005 (%)

Farm work                        4.3       1.9
Unskilled or casual work        28.2      18.1
Skilled work (non-factory)      16        12.9
Factory work                    16        19.5
Trading and shopkeeping          4.3       6.2
Restaurant                       3.1       3.8
Private business                 1.2       0.5
Government employment            8         7.1
Student                         19        28.1
Other                            0         2
Total                          100.1     100.1
Total farm                       4.3       1.9
Total non-farm                  76.8      68.1
Total students and other        19        30.1

Primary occupations           Baan Khokmayom
of adults
                              1995 (%)    2005 (%)

Farm work                        5.8       0.4
Unskilled or casual work        20.9      14
Skilled work (non-factory)       8.9       9.3
Factory work                    27.1      28
Trading and shopkeeping          7.1      11.5
Restaurant                       0.9       1.1
Private business                 3.1       9
Government employment            5.3       5.7
Student                         20        21.1
Other                            0.9       0
Total                          100.0     100.1
Total farm                       5.8       0.4
Total non-farm                  73.3      78.6
Total students and other        20.9      21.1

Source: Survey data, 2005. Baan Khan Haam, n=279;
Baan Khokmayom, n=210.

Villagers' views of factory work versus other types
of employment

Casual work           Factory work

Flexible              Stability of employment
Allows independence
  and autonomy        Possibility for promotion
Easy entry            Skills acquisition
Sometimes well paid   Welfare and occupational
  on a daily basis      health benefits
                      Culturally attractive--'modern'
                      Security of income

Source: Village survey

Land ownership by size of landholding, Baan Khan
Haam and Baan Khokmayom (2005)

                     Baan              Baan
                  Khan Haam         Khokmayom

              Frequency    %    Frequency    %

1-5 rai            6       43        0        0
6-10 rai           3       21        4       29
11-20 rai          2       14        5       36
21-50 rai          1        7        2       14
50-100 rai         0        0        2       14
100 rai +          2       14        1        7
Total             14      100       14      100

Note. 6.25 rai = 1 hectare

Source: Survey data

Demographic turbulence and uncertainty in Baan Khaan
Haam and Baan Khokmayom

                              Baan Khan Haam

                         Households   Population

Uthai district census
  bureau (2005)               --           495
Tambon data (Kor
  Chor Chor 2 Khor
  2003)                       92           405
Tambon health
  station (2005)             120           530
Survey estimate               --            --

                              Baan Khokmayom

                         Households    Population

Uthai district census
  bureau (2005)               --            378
Tambon data (Kor
  Chor Chor 2 Khor
  2003)                      126            425
Tambon health
  station (2005)             288          1,257
Survey estimate               --          3,000

Sources: Various, as indicated

Designating rural-ness (tradition) and urban-ness (modernity)

               Traditional/rural-ness    Modern/urban-ness

Production     Subsistence-oriented      Negligible subsistence
and                                        activity
livelihoods    Agriculture-focused
               Singular, relatively      Predominantly non-
                 unstratified              agricultural
                 economy                   Diverse, stratified
               'Simple' lives with few     economy
               consumer goods            Cash intense and

Social and     Informal, personal        Formal interaction
physical         interaction               based on
interactions     linked to seniority       hierarchies linked
                                           to wealth and
               Relatively immobile         political power
               A world unto itself
                                         Relatively mobile
               Long khaek (mutual        A place where
                 cooperation) is           integration and
                 the basis for village     interaction are
                 activities                intense
                 Attachment to the
                 village                 Cash-based activities
                                           define work and
                                           labour relations
                                         Alienation from the

Identity       Peasant, luuk baan nok    Post-peasant, worker
               Backward-looking,         Forward-looking,
                 ignorant,                 aware of the
                 uneducated, lacking       world, sophisticated,
                 motivation                disciplined, educated

Source: This table uses and builds upon the discussion in Thompson,
'Malay male migrants' and Thompson, 'Rural villages as socially
urban spaces in Malaysia'.
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Author:Rigg, Jonathan; Veeravongs, Suriya; Veeravongs, Lalida; Rohitarachoon, Piyawadee
Publication:Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Oct 1, 2008
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